I suppose it really should be “The Medina Family’s Hinayupak na Ensaimada” but everyone was so amused with Marc’s comments in the previous post on the Saveur article that I christened it Marc’s Hinayupak Ensaimada Recipe… Okay, I made it last weekend at the beach and here are some tips, comments, reactions and results. First off, let me say that for the reduced effort (less steps than other recipes I have tried), the results were very good. This is more cakey than the recipe we use in our family, but it is definitely far more artisanal than the fluffy cakey ones for sale in the malls. I will reiterate that I once wrote this was one of the best ensaimadas commercially available and I still believe that.
I pretty much followed the recipe in the Saveur article, however, with Marc’s comments, I decided to change a few of the ingredients as he suggested, or where I was confident of my own revisions… I will describe my steps so those daunted by this recipe will feel more comfortable about attempting it. I used UHT St. Paul’s milk in a packaging brick (didn’t have fresh milk at the beach). Even without reading Sister’s comment in the previous post, I too felt that 3 tablespoons of yeast was a lot, and since I have experienced exploding dough before, I made a command decision to reduce this amount to three foil packets of Fleischmann’s yeast instead. That was roughly 1 tablespoon or so, I think (actually, it turns out to be closer to 2 tablespoons). At any rate, use good yeast. And Marc is correct, if you use three tablespoons, you can taste the yeast, as I have often told him when I have purchased his ensaimadas. It’s a different approach, that’s all. But I stuck with the smaller amount of yeast. I also decided to use the butter in the “red can” (Queensland) as Marc suggested, as it has a stronger flavor. Alternatively, I would use unsalted butter, under the guise that unsalted butter is supposedly the better quality butter, without the salt to mask any taste imperfections. Just add salt to taste… but in this case there is tons of queso de bola, so salt is NOT an issue. That is why Marc’s recipe has no salt. I also wonder how aged edam in the U.S. works in lieu of QdB.
If you have good yeast, and you follow the recipe instructions carefully, your first rise after just a 15-20 minute rest will look like this. Then you have to add lots more eggs and butter. We used organic eggs, roughly “LARGE” size; but since I wasn’t convinced our large is New York large, I added one yolk, for a total of 23 yolks and 2 whole eggs.
The dough is then stretched by hand on a buttered marble slab…
…then sprinkled with grated cheese ad rolled up. Marc found the amounts suggested by Saveur to be too little, and I have to admit, I used more than 1 and 2/3 cups recommended, but I did not go as far as Marc’s suggestion of using a whole small ball of queso de bola. I think I used just over half of a small ball or roughly 2.5 cups of grated cheese. I used finely grated cheese inside the dough and a much larger grate for the cheese on top of the ensaimada…
The dough snakes are then coiled into a 5 and 1/2 inch mold and the end tucked under. Mine looked a bit bizarre, but I have coiling issues. I then sprinkled the top with lots of large grate cheese, as mark suggested, but here I am of two minds. The cheese didn’t melt into the ensaimada, it melted on it, and in some cases, burned. Some folks thought this was brilliant and full of character, others, like me, regretted not leaving half of this batch cheese-topping free. I managed to make 12 large ensaimadas… and frankly, had I used 3 tablespoons of yeast, I could have made 15 or more with this recipe.
I stuck the dough in an oven that wasn’t turned on and which has no pilot light, and let the ensaimadas rise while I briskly walked for 1 hour around the neighborhood to justify eating all of this ensaimada in the hours ahead… If you want to achieve as close to Marc’s ensaimadas for sale at the Salcedo market, I suggest you use LOCAL yeast not Fleishmann’s as part of the flavor comes from that yeast, and use a WHOLE LOT OF CHEESE. The grated cheese incorporated into the dough is what differentiates the Medina version. I always knew there was queso de bola IN the dough, I just never realized how much. The more cheese you put, the more oily the bottom of the ensaimada is when you buy it the day after it is baked. I always thought it was the butter content, now I know it is the oil content from the melted cheese.
Our oven was set to 350 degrees exactly, and I have a separate thermometer to check the temperature, but the ensaimadas browned a little too fast, looking perfect at about 13 minutes, rather than the suggested 18-20 minutes. My suggestion? Try 330F instead. But the darned things just grew like crazy and looked wicked wonderful as you can see in this photo. I let them cook for roughly 16.5-17 minutes total, but could have probably removed them at 1-2 minutes earlier.
Once the mini-monster ensaimadas were out of the oven, the Teen and Mrs. MM did the hard work (heehee) of brushing the ensaimadas with butter and sprinkling them with sugar. Note the burnt bits of cheese on top. Again, some liked this, I would take them out the next time.
The ensaimadas were delicious straight out of the oven, and also good a couple of hours later. They remained good the following morning as well, though as expected, they deflated a bit. You may want to add more butter and sugar than we put in the photos here. Despite the high cheese content, the near savory taste of these went well with homemade jam and more butter. I sent a couple of ensaimadas to some friends who had guests with Filipino-Austrian, French and Cebuano-Spanish blood and all of them said they were delicious. Other Pinoy friends at a nearby beach cove also seemed to like the results. This is not a sickly sweet version, and with just 3/4 cup of sugar in the dough countered by all that salty cheese, it is different from some of the other ensaimadas you are familiar with.
Thank you so much to Marc for sharing the recipe, and for adding his colorful comments. And thank you Robyn for writing that article in Saveur! And to pre-empt any comments about which ensaimada, commercial or not, is better, let me just say it is a matter of taste. For me, any food made with care, using brilliant ingredients, prepared with soul, and a healthy respect for the process, usually yields a wonderful result. Now if only more folks would share recipes such as these, and we somehow manage to document them, Filipino food culture wouldn’t disappear as artisanal cooks throughout the country pass away and take their culinary “secrets” with them to their graves… As for the term “hinayupak,” I had honestly NEVER heard or noticed or used it in a sentence before. But the entire weekend at the beach, it was hinayupak this, and hinayupak that, and Marc, they were defnitely hinayupak na ensaimada! Salamat! (P.S. Now that you have shared your recipe, and despite my saying it is doable, more folks will nevertheless head to Salcedo Market this weekend and wipe out whatever stock you send to your stall… so you better warn your cook to make an extra big batch this weekend lest Marketmanila readers start a riot at the market! Heeheehee.)